Utah dance legend, master teacher and studio owner Janet Gray passed on earlier this year. On Sunday, May 20, from 5:30-10:30pm, a celebration of Gray's will take place at Red Butte Gardens. (She died in January, but wished for her service to occur during the Spring.)
As Kathy Adams pointed out in her obit in the SL Tribune, Gray "opened her studio in 1978, a time when it was still hard for women to get bank loans. But as a single mom with a young son, she wouldn’t take 'no' for an answer. She built her brand of tap and jazz over the years, becoming one of the most sought-after teachers in the city." As loveDANCEmore director Ashley Anderson recalls in the same piece, Gray was "someone who believed in social justice and that the arts were critical to social justice. All of her students, like me, were taught tap as an art form with a profound African-American lineage. Young women were taught to be educated and empowered both in and out of dance; to be responsible, to be conscientious, and to consider the impacts of their actions on others."
(Also from Adams' article: "In lieu of flowers, Josh Gray requested donations be made to the Huntsman Cancer Institute Wellness Center, where he said his mother received enormous support, strength and care.")
Carly Anderson, a former student and current tap teacher at Janet Gray Studios reminisces, “Janet’s motto was ‘I yell because I care’, and it was the truth. She always tried to make everybody the best they could be. She gave her students confidence and life lessons and she fostered creativity and a love of dance with her faculty. She made me a better tap dancer and a better teacher and I will be forever grateful.”